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Saw It on Social: Purple Carrot Meals

Kyle and I have a simple division of labor: I do 90% of the cleaning, he does 90% of the cooking.  He enjoys cooking, and is pretty good at it, but that doesn’t mean his menus are very healthy.  This summer, I realized that we needed to eat more vegetables, but even when we bought them, we didn’t do a very good job of actually eating them.

We have tried several meal-kit delivery services.  Some were good, but none of them lasted two or three deliveries.  Eventually you realize that you’re not that excited about the recipes, you’re not saving much money, and the meals are kind of a pain to cook.  So I was very reticent to try Purple Carrot when Kyle suggested it.

Purple Carrot is a 100% plant-based meal kit.  Everything is vegan.

Obviously, you know from our love of cheeseburgers that Kyle and I are not vegans.  But if you’re looking to eat more vegetables, who better to ask than a vegan?

First, let’s talk about taste.  We’re on our fifth week of meals, and we have never had a meal we didn’t like.  The flavors are shockingly good.  The meals are inventive, and the variety is great.

Last night, we had a Japanese Yam Sushi Bowl.  It was a great mix of textures and flavors.  And we added some fresh fish to make it omnivore-friendly.

Second, with other kits, if you don’t eat them right away, they don’t keep.  The ingredients spoil, and it’s all a waste.  But since vegetables have a longer shelf-life than meat, you have more time to eat the Purple Carrot meals.  So if you’re too busy to cook, or don’t feel like eating the meal that night, you’re not going to open the fridge tomorrow to discover it rotted on the vine.

Third, the meals can take a little while to make, but they’re worth it.  So many meal kits tell you how easy they are to make, but 45-minutes into your quick, easy dinner, you feel like you’ve been duped.

Purple Carrot isn’t the simplest food to cook that I’ve ever made.  Last night’s meal required a zester and last week, we needed a mesh strainer.  Not everyone has these items.  But beyond that, their probably a 6-out-of-10 on the difficulty scale.

As for time, Kyle’s done making dinner in 30-45 minutes, which is typical for a fully prepared meal.

Fourth, Purple Carrot gives you a bunch of choices.  Every week, you get to choose your three meals from six options.  Our favorites have been the Asian-inspired meals–the yam bowl, the pineapple fried rice, the street noodles.  But there are enough choices that I’m able to work around Kyle’s weird food choices (he doesn’t eat soup, or beans, or mushrooms…) without feeling cheated out of options.

Lastly, let’s talk about cost.  Purple Carrot is $72 for three meals to feed two people.  That comes out to $12 per meal.  More than groceries would cost, for sure.  However, since we stopped buying vegetables that would rot in the fridge, our weekly food budget only increased $14.  And if it keeps us from ordering takeout on UberEats, which can get spendy, we’ll save a fair amount of money.

I have been extremely happy with the flavor of the meals.  The price is a little high, but we would easily spend $12-$15 per person on takeout.  And we’ve been eating healthier and feeling better about the dinners we’re making at home.  So we plan to keep receiving the Purple Carrot meals going forward.

Have you tried Purple Carrot?  Did you like it?  Or are you over meal-kits in general?

{image here; As we’ve discussed before, all Saw it on Social posts are unsponsored, ungifted and unsolicited.  I buy the products with my own money.  No exceptions.  Because if the purpose is to learn whether they’re worth money, how can you know the answer if you don’t spend money?}

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    33 comments

  1. Jessica says:

    I’m definitely over meal kits. In the spirit on transparency, I haven’t used one in over 2.5 years, so maybe there are new and better options. As far as who cooks dinner in our household, it’s whoever gets home from work first. When we were doing the meal kit it happened to be in a time where I was the one home from work more often than not. It was advertised, as you said, as quick, easy, and delicious but ended up being none of those. I can get a full dinner ready in 30 minutes or less, on average. These usually took up upwards of 1-1.5 hours. They were not easy, quick, or delicious!

    I often get lured into the idea and browse through some of the new sites to see their offerings but always manage to dissuade myself before purchasing.

    I’m glad you have found something that works for you though! To each their own 🙂

    September 19, 2018/Reply
    • Kikki says:

      Agreed! My husband and I stopped using meal kits because it ended up taking so much time for just 2-4 servings of food. If I want to spend an hour or more in the kitchen, I can just as easily cook a big batch of something that will feed us for a few nights and have leftovers to bring for lunch. I can see these boxes being fun for a Friday night in, or an occasional change for people who mostly do takeout, but they’re not an efficient or cost-effective way to feed yourself day-to-day.

      September 19, 2018/Reply
  2. Nicole says:

    My biggest complaint with meal kits, in addition to what you already mentioned, is the packaging. Most of them involve a LOT of plastic bags, not all of which are recyclable. And I now have stockpiled enough ice packs to build an igloo. But I’m tempted to give Purple Carrot a try because I also need to eat more vegetables. How does their packaging compare to the others that include meat?

    September 19, 2018/Reply
    • Belle says:

      There is still a good amount of plastic. Some of it is labeled recyclable. It was one of the things I wondered about as well, but just forgot to mention it. Kyle has been reusing some of the containers because they’re sturdy enough to hand wash an reuse, but not all are.

      September 19, 2018/Reply
  3. Cee Cee from KY says:

    Like Jessica, I found meal kits to take way too long because they tried to be unnecessarily fancy (No, Blue Apron, I don’t want to pickle every vegetable on my plate, thanks). I also hated the packaging waste. I do most of the cooking, because I enjoy it, and a weeknight meal consisting of a pork tenderloin and roast asparagus takes 15 minutes max to get in the oven, compared to over an hour with a meal kit with all that crazy chopping and sauces. My big indulgence is that I nearly always use our grocery store online ordering/pick up. I can easily start the list at work, cross check what we have in the pantry, and click confirm when I get home to pick up the next day. For five bucks, it’s worth every cent.

    September 19, 2018/Reply
    • Jessica says:

      I do that as well. It helps me stay on budget too, no impulse/hunger buys!

      September 19, 2018/Reply
    • Hillary says:

      Agreed on the packaging waste – it’s so much! That, plus the cost, plus the labor of the meals, made meal kits not a staple for us. I use them in seasons of life where I can’t meal plan, even simple things, but I don’t want to feel like garbage eating take out all the time either. Also surprising was the high calories in the meals and the range of small to huge portions.

      Purple Carrot sounds interesting but 1) I live with two people who would be strict carnivores if I let them and 2) I found that with other meal kits it was usually the produce (especially lettuces) that went spoiled within a day or two.

      September 19, 2018/Reply
    • Anna says:

      The packaging is a big deterrent for me, especially since I have a pretty well-stocked pantry and have many of the ingredients required. That said, I’d imagine the veggies would spoil more quickly than the meat since you can just toss meat in the freezer.

      September 19, 2018/Reply
  4. Alison says:

    We tried both Blue Apron and Hello Fresh via free or nearly free coupon codes from friends. I have deactivated my Blue Apron account multiple times and came back when they offered a $30 off an order and that’s the only time I use it. Otherwise I can cook on my own for less money, even if my meals aren’t as creative. I agree with Cee Cee about the packaging waste being bothersome. I actually found a blogger that writes a great weekly meal plan centered around Aldi shopping (where I do 75% of my shopping) so I just pick and choose the meals from that that interest me and mix those in with my favorite standby recipes.

    September 19, 2018/Reply
    • Jill says:

      How interesting. Huge Aldi fan here. I get almost everything I need there, save lots of money, and get in and out quickly because of the store’s small scale. Lucky to have one nearby. One tip I’ve learned after many rotting heads of lettuce — I try to buy only fresh vegetables that can be cooked so they don’t go to waste if I don’t eat them in a salad. Spinach, arugula, kale, tomatoes, etc. They can go in any number of things — pasta, eggs, casseroles, etc.

      September 19, 2018/Reply
      • Alison says:

        So, full disclosure, we have an Aldi distribution center in our town (it’s actually across the street from where I work) so I’ve had very few issues with fruits and veggies being suspect.

        September 19, 2018/Reply
        • Jill says:

          Fwiw, I live in D.C. — I’ve never had problems with any Aldi produce or other products — there are some stocking problems — sometimes the produce shelves are decimated.

          September 19, 2018/Reply
    • J says:

      Do you mind sharing which blogger does the Aldi meal plans? Thank you!

      September 19, 2018/Reply
    • Emily says:

      We do almost all our shopping at Aldi too, minus a few odds and ends we can’t find there. I’d be interested in knowing the blogger you reference – of course, assuming Abra is ok with you sharing here.

      September 19, 2018/Reply
      • Belle says:

        That’s fine. Share away.

        September 19, 2018/Reply
    • Alison says:

      This is the site: https://www.mashupmom.com/category/meal-planning/

      She posts a meal plan weekly on Wednesday assuming you do your shopping Thurs/Fri/Sat. She plans each mean for a family of four but the meals don’t have a lot of leftovers unless its a meal where you’ll reuse the cooked meat later in the week for a different dish. I only cook for two, so I find one recipe is good for us for one night fresh and one night of leftovers. I usually pick two or three recipes from her full list each week.

      September 19, 2018/Reply
    • sc says:

      Another vote for Aldi! I have no stake in the game because I’m the eater and the dishwasher but our grocery bill is considerably lower than it was before our town got an Aldi. I agree that produce can be hit-or-miss, but we kept a veggie garden this year so it’s all good.

      September 19, 2018/Reply
      • Belle says:

        No Aldi in Spokane.

        September 19, 2018/Reply
    • Betsy says:

      I wish we had an Aldi! We shopped at one on vacation last summer and it was great! Between there and Wegman’s we were ready to relocate to upstate NY!

      September 19, 2018/Reply
  5. Chelsea says:

    I checked out Purple Carrot and the meals are 600-700 calories per serving! The meals look delicious, but that’s too many calories for me.

    September 19, 2018/Reply
    • Belle says:

      Kyle and I only eat one big meal a day, so it’s fine for us. Eating out is usually about 1,000 a meal, so we might even be saving a few calories.

      September 19, 2018/Reply
  6. Abigail says:

    I’m a vegan and tried Purple Carrot shortly after moving to NYC because I hated schlepping home produce on the subway. The meals tasted ok (just ok) but despite being high in calories, I was hungry after every single meal. I cancelled the service.

    September 19, 2018/Reply
  7. Katie says:

    As a new vegetarian, I really appreciate Purple Carrot because it’s given me more menu ideas beyond 101 ways to prepare chickpeas. The meals I’ve had are genuinely delicious. However, I am a little wary about the nutritional content. They added that information on since I’ve started subscribing, and the calorie and fat content is a little high for my taste. I also find that I need to add protein to the meal kits to stay full for a long time, even though I often choose Purple Carrot’s high protein options.

    September 19, 2018/Reply
  8. AVV says:

    I am a huge fan of the Hungryroot (https://www.hungryroot.com/) meal delivery service for the same reason Abra mentioned: when you need to eat vegetables, look to vegans for tasty ones. The meals take under 10 minutes to cook for about 2 servings; it’s just me and the hubs, so that’s a perfect portion for us (either one meal, or now + leftovers for lunch).

    Most meals are a combination of a veggie base, sauce, soy protein, and veggie topper (e.g. roasted corn and black beans). They also make a delicious almond chickpea cookie dough worth eating straight from the tub. Sometimes I end up with extra sauce/protein, which I find mixes well with whatever random noodles/veggies I happen to have around.

    In terms of packaging, they claim everything is recyclable (minus the insulating liner made of waste cotton). That might depend on what your local center accepts, but I’ve been able to recycle most things, minus the gel packs. Theoretically you can squeeze out the gel and recycle the covering, but I just made a giant mess when I tried that.

    September 19, 2018/Reply
    • Betsy says:

      This is so interesting! I’ve never heard of hungryroot – thank you for sharing!

      WE have two small kits including one who is a picky eater – no way I am messing with meal kits. That said, I think if you find one that works for you and helps you accomplish a goal like eating more vegetables or cooking more at home, they are a valuable tool.

      September 19, 2018/Reply
  9. Sarah says:

    I really enjoy cooking and consider myself pretty capable in the kitchen, but sometimes I just get really bored of my own food. That’s when a meal kit really comes in handy–to give me new ideas and help me get out of my rut. I did Blue Apron for a while, but wasn’t a fan for a variety of reason. I’ve recently started using Purple Carrot and LOVE it. The flavors and menu options are SO GOOD and I love that I’m eating more plant-based meals. I highly echo Abra’s endorsement.

    September 20, 2018/Reply
  10. vickie says:

    We have used Sunbasket for over a year now, pretty regularly 2-3 times a month. They have fantastic gluten free menus. Sometimes we get the vegetarian selections and add our own meat or fish from the local butcher. The variety of recipes is great, but I have to admit I’ve never used another meal delivery service other than this one. For me (the main shopper and meal planner) this has significantly lessened the stress of “what’s for dinner?”

    September 20, 2018/Reply
  11. Rory says:

    I love the idea meal kits because I’m not a very experienced cook. I tried Plated for a few weeks but since I just cook for myself there were crazy amounts of food waste (not to mention packaging). If there were a service that offered a food plan for just one person I’d be all over that. The meals for two people is just way too much food for one person, even with leftovers.

    September 20, 2018/Reply
  12. Michelle says:

    It’s not a meal kit, but I really like Hungry Harvest. They send vegetables and fruits that were rejected from selling at the grocery store for reasons that don’t affect quality/taste- weird shape, too big or small, overproduction of the food so they can’t sell it. They send you an email telling you what is in your box so before you get it (and give you an opportunity to customize for $1.50) so you can plan your meals. You can add things to a Never list and Love list. They sent recipe suggestions too, but I really like specifically that they don’t send only ingredients for one recipe. You still get the experience of trying new fruit and vegetables still but the freedom to use them how you like.

    September 20, 2018/Reply
    • Belle says:

      This sounds like a great idea! What does it cost you a month? We used to have a farmer who sold ugly produce, but he’s retired now.

      September 20, 2018/Reply
  13. Karen says:

    The only meal kit with which I have any experience is Blue Apron. Blue Apron has definitely changed my life for the better. Although capable in the kitchen, there wasn’t much variety to my recipes. BA exposed me to so many great recipes, and the key with them is that you don’t just read a recipe and think “that would be nice to make” then never do it. I learn by doing, and since the whole point is navigating the step by step directions, I know I’ve already successfully made everything in the recipe book. It’s really helped. Because of BA, I learned how to use plantains and usually keep one on hand. Same with a pan tempura with pickled vegetables I wouldn’t ever have made on my own but that I now keep repeating. And cannelloni is fun to make and pretty easy. I would never have known that either. I’ll be doing that on my own for the umpteenth time this afternoon. The calories can be a little high, but I split a recipe for two into thirds and am usually good. I also use a food-saver vacuum thingy to freeze whole meals, so there’s always something on-hand. When I stayed at a hotel a little while ago, I stuck a couple of those frozen meals into a cooler, refrigerated them on arrival, and ate really well on vacation for next to nothing using the microwave to reheat. I only schedule a delivery once a month or so, so I’m not overwhelmed, and it works well for my needs.

    September 20, 2018/Reply
  14. Melissa says:

    This looks awesome! Thanks for sharing 🙂 Do you guys usually do the high protein plan or the quick & easy plan?

    Thanks!

    September 21, 2018/Reply
    • Belle says:

      We do the quick and easy plan. We thought about trying the TB12 meals, but we chose the other.

      September 21, 2018/Reply